Yomichan

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Yomichan turns your web browser into a tool for building Japanese language literacy by helping you to decipher texts which would be otherwise too difficult tackle. This extension is similar to Rikaichan for Firefox and Rikaikun for Chrome, but it stands apart in its goal of being a all-encompassing learning tool as opposed to a mere browser-based dictionary.

Yomichan provides advanced features not available in other browser-based dictionaries:

Table of Contents

Installation

Download and install Yomichan from your browser’s web store:

Dictionaries

There are several free Japanese dictionaries available for Yomichan, with two of them having glossaries available in different languages. You must download and import the dictionaries you wish to use in order to enable Yomichan definition lookups. If you have proprietary EPWING dictionaries that you would like to use, please see the Yomichan Import page to learn how to convert and import them into Yomichan.

Please be aware that the non-English dictionaries contain fewer entries than their English counterparts. Even if your primary language is not English, you may consider also importing the English version for better coverage.

Basic Usage

  1. Click on the icon in the browser toolbar to open the Yomichan actions dialog.

  2. Click on the spanner/monkey wrench icon in the middle to open the options page.

  3. Import the dictionaries you wish to use for term and Kanji searches. If you do not have any dictionaries installed (or enabled), Yomichan will warn you that it is not ready for use by displaying an orange exclamation mark over its icon. This exclamation mark will disappear once you have installed and enabled at least one dictionary.

  4. Hold down the Shift key or the middle mouse button as you move your mouse over text to display a popup window containing term definitions. This window will only be shown if definitions were found and it can be dismissed by clicking anywhere outside of it.

  5. Click on the icon to hear the term pronounced by a native speaker. If an audio sample is not available, you will hear a short click instead. You can configure the sources used to retrieve audio samples in the options page.

  6. Click on individual Kanji in the term definition results to view additional information about those characters including stroke order diagrams, readings, meanings, as well as other useful data.

Custom Dictionaries

Yomichan supports the use of custom dictionaries including the esoteric but popular EPWING format. They were often utilized in portable electronic dictionaries similar to the ones pictured below. These dictionaries are often sought after by language learners for their correctness and excellent coverage of the Japanese language.

Unfortunately, as most of the dictionaries released in this format are proprietary I am unable to bundle them with Yomichan. You will need to procure these dictionaries yourself and import them with Yomichan Import. Please see the project page for additional details.

Pocket EPWING dictionaries

Anki Integration

Yomichan features automatic flashcard creation for Anki, a free application designed to help you retain knowledge. This feature requires the prior installation of an Anki plugin called AnkiConnect. Please see the respective project page for more information about how to set up this software.

Flashcard Configuration

Before flashcards can be automatically created, you must configure the templates used to create term and/or Kanji notes. If you are unfamiliar with Anki deck and model management, this would be a good time to reference the Anki Manual. In short, you must specify what information should be included in the flashcards that Yomichan creates through AnkiConnect.

Flashcard fields can be configured with the following steps:

  1. Open the Yomichan options page and scroll down to the section labeled Anki Options.
  2. Tick the checkbox labeled Enable Anki integration (Anki must be running with AnkiConnect installed).
  3. Select the type of template to configure by clicking on either the Terms or Kanji tabs.
  4. Select the Anki deck and model to use for new creating new flashcards of this type.
  5. Fill the model fields with markers corresponding to the information you wish to include (several can be used at once). Advanced users can also configure the actual Handlebars templates used to create the flashcard contents (this is strictly optional).

    Markers for Term Cards

    MarkerDescription
    {audio}Audio sample of a native speaker’s pronunciation in MP3 format (if available).
    {cloze-body}Raw, inflected term as it appeared before being reduced to dictionary form by Yomichan.
    {cloze-prefix}Text for the containing {sentence} from the start up to the value of {cloze-body}.
    {cloze-suffix}Text for the containing {sentence} from the value of {cloze-body} to the end.
    {dictionary}Name of the dictionary from which the card is being created (unavailable in grouped mode).
    {expression}Term expressed as Kanji (will be displayed in Kana if Kanji is not available).
    {furigana}Term expressed as Kanji with Furigana displayed above it (e.g. 日本語にほんご).
    {furigana-plain}Term expressed as Kanji with Furigana displayed next to it in brackets (e.g. 日本語[にほんご]).
    {glossary}List of definitions for the term (output format depends on whether running in grouped mode).
    {reading}Kana reading for the term (empty for terms where the expression is the reading).
    {sentence}Sentence, quote, or phrase in which the term appears in the source content.
    {tags}Grammar and usage tags providing information about the term (unavailable in grouped mode).
    {url}Address of the web page in which the term appeared in.

    Markers for Kanji Cards

    MarkerDescription
    {character}Unicode glyph representing the current Kanji.
    {cloze-body}Raw, inflected parent term as it appeared before being reduced to dictionary form by Yomichan.
    {cloze-prefix}Text for the containing {sentence} from the start up to the value of {cloze-body}.
    {cloze-suffix}Text for the containing {sentence} from the value of {cloze-body} to the end.
    {dictionary}Name of the dictionary from which the card is being created.
    {glossary}List of definitions for the Kanji.
    {kunyomi}Kunyomi (Japanese reading) for the Kanji expressed as Katakana.
    {onyomi}Onyomi (Chinese reading) for the Kanji expressed as Hiragana.
    {sentence}Sentence, quote, or phrase in which the character appears in the source content.
    {url}Address of the web page in which the Kanji appeared in.

When creating your model for Yomichan, please make sure that you pick a unique field to be first; fields that will contain {expression} or {character} are ideal candidates for this. Anki does not require duplicate flashcards to be added to a deck and uses the first field in the model to check for duplicates. If, for example, you have {reading} configured to be the first field in your model and already have はし in your deck, you will not be able to create a flashcard for はし, because they share the same reading.

Flashcard Creation

Once Yomichan is configured, it becomes trivial to create new flashcards with a single click. You will see the following icons next to term definitions.

Below are some troubleshooting tips you can try if you are unable to create new flashcards:

Keyboard Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are globally available:

ShortcutAction
Alt + InsertOpen search page.
Alt + DeleteToggle extension on/off.

The following shortcuts are available on search results:

ShortcutAction
EscCancel current search
Alt + PgUpPage up through results.
Alt + PgDnPage down through results.
Alt + EndGo to last result.
Alt + HomeGo to first result.
Alt + UpGo to previous result.
Alt + DownGo to next result.
Alt + bGo to back to source term.
Alt + eAdd current term as expression to Anki.
Alt + rAdd current term as reading to Anki.
Alt + pPlay audio for current term.
Alt + kAdd current Kanji to Anki.

Development

Working on Yomichan and related tools is very time consuming and I am always on the lookout for code contributions from other developers who want to help out. I take pride in the high quality of the codebase and ask you to follow the following basic guidelines when creating pull requests:

Templates

Yomichan uses Handlebars templates for user interface generation. The source templates are found in the tmpl directory and the compiled version is stored in the ext/bg/js/templates.js file. If you modify the source templates, you will need to also recompile them. If you are developing on Linux or Mac OS X, you can use the included build_tmpl.sh and build_tmpl_auto.sh shell scripts to do this for you (inotify-tools required). Otherwise, simply execute handlebars tmpl/*.html -f ext/bg/js/templates.js from the project’s base directory to compile all the templates.

Dependencies

Yomichan uses several third-party libraries to function. Below are links to homepages and snapshots of the exact versions packaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m having problems importing dictionaries in Firefox, what do I do?

Yomichan uses the cross-browser IndexedDB system for storing imported dictionary data into your user profile. Although everything “just works” in Chrome, depending on settings, Firefox users can run into problems due browser bugs. Yomichan catches errors and tries to offer suggestions about how to work around Firefox issues, but in general at least one of the following solutions should work for you:

Why does the Kanji results page display “No data found” for several fields?

You are using data from the KANJIDIC dictionary that was exported for an earlier version of Yomichan. It does not contain the additional information which newer versions of Yofomichan expect. Unfortunately, since major browser implementations of IndexedDB do not provide reliable means for selective bulk data deletion, you will need purge your database and install the latest version of the KANJIDIC to see additional information about characters.

Can I still create cards without HTML formatting? The option for it is gone!

Developing Yomichan is a constant balance between including useful features and keeping complexity at a minimum. With the new user-editable card template system, it is possible to create text-only cards without having to double the number field of templates in the extension itself. If you would like to stop HTML tags from being added to your cards, simply copy the contents of the text-only field template into the template box on the Anki settings page (make sure you have the Show advanced options checkbox ticked), making sure to replace the existing values.

Will you add support for online dictionaries?

Online dictionaries will never be implemented because it is impossible to support them in a robust way. In order to perform Japanese deinflection, Yomichan must execute dozens of database queries per every single word. Factoring in network latency and the fragility of web scraping, I do not believe that it is possible to realize a good user experience.

Is it possible to use Yomichan with files saved locally on my computer with Chrome?

In order to use Yomichan with local files in Chrome, you must first tick the Allow access to file URLs checkbox for Yomichan on the extensions page. Due to the restrictions placed on browser addons in the WebExtensions model, it will likely never be possible to use Yomichan with PDF files.

Is it possible to delete individual dictionaries without purging the database?

Although it is technically possible to purge specific dictionaries, due to the limitations of the underlying browser IndexedDB system, this process is extremely slow. For example, it can take up to ten minutes to delete a single moderately-sized term dictionary! Instead of including a borderline unusable feature in Yomichan, I have chosen to disable dictionary deletion entirely.

Why aren’t EPWING dictionaries bundled with Yomichan?

The vast majority of EPWING dictionaries are proprietary, so unfortunately I am unable to legally include them in this extension for copyright reasons.

When are you going to add support for $MYLANGUAGE?

Developing Yomichan requires a significant understanding of Japanese sentence structure and grammar. I have no time to invest in learning yet another language; therefore other languages will not be supported. I will also not accept pull request containing this functionality, as I will ultimately be the one maintaining your code.

Screenshots

Term definitions Kanji information Dictionary options Anki options

License

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.